Reflexes like a Ninja

Life is H-A-R-D with highly sensitive kids.  Especially if you are a highly sensitive parent.  Doubly especially if you are the type of parent that doesn’t drink alcohol to soothe jangled nerves from parenting sensitive kids who melt down frequently.

Middle daughter’s behavior has taken a turn for the worse since school began.  She’s more prone to meltdowns again.   Come to think of it, youngest daughter, too has had an increase in tearful upsets since school began.  And she hardly eats (never enough time at lunchtime in school) without major dawdling, which contributes to her upsets (because she’s always tired and hungry but refuses to eat making her more tired and hungry).

We went on a family outing today to forest preserve near a local lake to meet for a church group fall festival.  We planned ahead since we knew it was a cool day.  The girls wore long pants, t-shirts, socks and gym shoes and sweaters.  Last Tuesday it was in the 80s, and the girls were wearing shorts.  Today, merely 4 days later, it turned out to be only in the upper 50s.  Despite advance planning, we didn’t account for super-sensitive-to-cold-weather kids.  Actually, we simply forgot.  We always forget our kids thresholds for tolerating cold and pain are nearly zilch.  Usually we don’t remember until the first brisk day of fall, which ended up being today.

And like dummies good parents…we tried to make the best of it.  Amidst the whining and the crying and the “I want to go home mommy”, we stayed at the outing – a church thing my friend the dental hygienist invited us to.   Some young male church member tried to engage middle daughter by talking to her while she was sitting next to dad, all cuddled up next to him because she was cold and sad, asking her questions.  And then she turned and buried her face in dad’s side.  I knew that could only mean one thing.  I got between them and the young man, and gently turned her chin towards me.  I saw her tear stained face and asked her if she was scared of the young man who talked to her and she nodded.

I forget, when she is cold and hungry and in a new social environment, there’s bound to be difficulties.   I forget, that even though she’s ‘over’ being selectively mute, new social settings are still challenging.  I forget, that even though I treat her as if she is a typical child, she’s still not quite typical.

It’s hard to remember these things when I’m in a new social setting with my highly sensitive children.  There’s so much activity going on that I myself get a little overwhelmed.  I go on hyper-alert too, waiting for the next upset.   I’m a highly sensitive person just like they are.

It’s not always a bad thing.

Today the hyper-alert state paid off (again**).

After I calmed my middle child, I sat down next to her and scooted her close to me.  I hugged her and then lean forward to ask Mr. RSG if he wanted a soda.  And as I was looking at him, the BIGGEST Daddy Long Legs Spider ever was crawling on his jacket collar and ambling its way up to his hair.  YIKES!!!!


Yep. It was a big-‘un.

In what I’m told was an awesome Ninja move on my part, I shrieked, jumped up and took the water bottle I’d apparently* been holding in my hand and swiped the large spider off his neck and it flew onto the picnic table top behind him.   Simultaneously, I clambered up on top of the table and took my shoe and squashed the Daddy Long Legs.   It was nothing but a smear on the table when I got done with him (I kind of felt bad about that).

When it was all over, I answered the questions about what happened because all most people saw (including the church pastor I’d met just a half an hour before) was some crazy lady jumping up and stomping on a picnic table.

Most people agreed that was an awesome ninja move on my part.   And I admit, I was pretty darn proud of my quick thinking and quicker moves, and sparing my husband a major ick experience (because I don’t know about you…if I were to see a huge spider crawling on me out of the corner of MY eye, I’d be flipping out).

I guess this should be one for the record.  Most times I really can’t stand my high sensitivities, but I have to say at times,  they have been a blessing waiting to happen.


* apparently because I don’t remember this part and husband never saw it either, but oldest daughter did.

** the hyper-alert state has saved two of my daughters from falls off high places.  I caught oldest daughter when she went tumbling down the second story deck off the back of our home – I caught her the second she stepped off the deck even though I had to run up 10 stairs first to do it and lunged for her, and I caught youngest daughter when she fell off a tall metal tornado slide and landed in my arms.

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6 Responses to Reflexes like a Ninja

  1. Mr. RSG says:

    I’ll vouch for the “ninja-swift” movement (and the crazy lady on the table-top too).

    From my perspective it was pretty scary: “Hon, you want a soda or som….”
    eyes widen to cartoon-sized saucers as she lunges at me. The next thing I know, feel my a$$ pinched because she managed to step on it (while I was still sitting!!) during her vault over my head.

    With my brain still reeling I realized that I haven’t been struck about the face or head, as I originally imagined was coming; I turned around to locate my “attacker”. There she is, on the table, doing the Riverdance, then she jumps down while everyone around has a stunned look on their face. Had it not been a church function, I think there might have been a couple of WTF’s floating around.

    Like I said before – it was pretty scary. I think it would have been better for me to just find the spider and squish it than to have to face The Dancing Diva of Death.


    (love you hon…) 😉

  2. raisingsmartgirls says:

    You know, I was worried it was one of those brown recluses (since I have no idea what they look liked). I just saw the huge brown thing on your neck and it looked hungry and like it was going towards the tender earlobe flesh.

    Next time, you’re own your own buddy. 🙂

  3. I’m trying to decide if I’m getting more sensitive as I get further entrenched in my “healthier” diet, or if I’m… I dunno. Noticing it more.

    I’m definitely responding physically more to stressful (read people-intensive) events and outings. About this sensitivity stuff: is it systemic/genetic (like blond hair/blue eyes) or is it… acquired, like a taste for spicy food?

    Sometimes I think my kids are “sensitive” then on days like today (when I’m detoxing from my being overstimulated) I’m thankful for how completely they can entertain themselves and give me breathing room.

    (I’m still waiting for that time when my sensitivity will mean something other than awkwardness. Happy you have some key examples, though they sound scary to me.)

  4. raisingsmartgirls says:

    Amy Jane –

    I think it could be age effects – in that as we age, the ability to bounce back from stressors decline. I also think as we (well I anyway) tend to be more sedentary (relatively speaking) that we aren’t burning off excess stress in physical ways as we once used to when we were a hunting and gathering society and always engaged in the natural fight for survival.

    The sensitivity stuff from everything I’ve gleaned from my readings, is a result of both biology and environment. I’m going to paraphrase here. Sensitivity is part of the reflexive reactions of the nervous system. It has to do with the flight/freeze/fight reflexes that is part of our heritage of being human animals.

    Gosh, now that I’m thinking of it…I recently read somewhere that animals don’t retain stress like we do because they completely follow through on their stress responses and they don’t have lingering effects because they complete the stress response – they feel and release everything to the fullest. We humans however, because we are socially conditioned to act to act in socially acceptable ways, tend to hold onto the stress response and not let it flow naturally out of them, consequently we retain physical effects in an effort not look silly/crazy/weird. And then consequently, those that are more sensitive overall, tend to retain those physical effects and they linger as stress and anxiety and (I think) a whole host of other neuroses.

    (Hmm…methinks I have to come back to this and find the research to back up what I’m saying).

    And yes, my girls too are better at entertaining themselves…and sometimes WITHOUT bickering. My girls this morning behaved SO well and played the Harry Potter video game mostly quietly enough…so that Mr. RSG and I actually got some snuggle time in for like an HOUR this morning in bed.

    For more information regarding the sensitivity stuff for adults, I’ll direct you to Elain Aron’s the Highly Sensitive Person website:

    Anyway…yes, I do believe your sensitivity will be useful in ways other than awkwardness.


  5. Papa T says:

    What if some of us human animals are less ‘domesticated’ than others? Or, even less domesticate-able than others? Some species of animals are easily ‘tamed’…some not so. Even within species there are some members who are more difficult to ‘break’.

    Sensitivity and awkwardness? What if the sensitive among us are seen as troublesome because they are not easily normalized? What happens when a fish is taken out of water? Who would complain about the fish’s inability to breathe? Who would suggest that the fish undergo therapy? or be medicated to make it ‘more like us’? Yes, I know this analogy is a bit extreme. But I think it is applicable.

    I wonder what it is about seeking out circumstances and situations where one senses less awkwardness — instead of ‘trying’ to feel less awkward in troubling surroundings — that is not socially acceptable. I am not surprised that as population concentration increases (it’s called ‘civilization’), difficulties experienced by members of our society are more prevalent. In the last few hundreds of years the roles and living conditions of many members of the the human race have changed immensely. Our scope is naturally quite limited. It is difficult to ponder the relative quickness of these changes. 500 years represents five-thousandths percent of 100,000 years. In recent years technological ‘growth’ has been extreme — magnifying our uneasiness.

    What if what we are feeling is perfectly natural?

    Amy Jane…what if your ‘healthier diet’ is leading to a stronger connection with your human being? What if being human doesn’t blend well with being — or acting — civilized? I have been ‘unsuccessful’ in most of my attempts to ‘socialize’. I can identify with your new-found health experience. I wish you the best.

  6. raisingsmartgirls says:

    Papa T –

    You are quite right. We struggle to ‘fit in’ to ‘assimilate’ to be ‘socially acceptable’ and it causes tremendous struggle and anxiety for some (many?) of us. Some of us can’t integrate well into the expectations of others, and shouldn’t force themselves to.

    I got to thinking about my friend’s intense but creative and imaginative child and I got to thinking about my own children and my sensitivities and my husband’s increasing agitation regarding work and the overt and subliminal demands being placed on all of us to put up with everything.

    What if we just can’t do that anymore. Put up with it?

    I see it more and more…people being stretched like rubberbands. I see the fallout more and more. Depression, panic attacks, self-medication, infidelity. Husbands set against wives, children against parents, parents against children, neighbor against neighbor.

    I need grounding. I am sometimes a rubberband stretched to my limit. I’ve got some posts in mind to reflect upon some necessary changes to the way things happen around here.

    But not today. Got some other projects need doing round here.

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